On Monday January 31, the new vice president Suleiman addressed the nation saying that he was asked by Mubarak to open a dialogue with all opposition groups and to ask the judiciary to overturn the disputed elections results of last November. It was a tactical retreat by the regime in order to waste time and exhaust the protesters.
However, the protest leaders instantly rejected this disingenuous offer and insisted on their main demand of the total removal of Mubarak and for regime change.
It seems that the embattled president would have to make a choice soon. He will either submit to the demands of the popular revolution and leave power or employ his exhausted security forces to battle his people, transforming Liberation Square to Tiananmen Square.
On the other hand, the challenge to the Egyptian people is whether they will stop their impressive revolution when the West and its local hirelings give up Mubarak in order to save his regime. The leaders of this revolution and civil society groups that have joined have so far insisted on regime change, not change of characters.
A few weeks after 9/11, the neo-cons persuaded Bush that after Afghanistan, the U.S. should pursue regime change in Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria and its allies in Lebanon, and to give Israel a green light to eliminate the Palestinian resistance in the Occupied territories.
After almost a decade, the U.S. is struggling in Afghanistan and has enormously enhanced Iran's strategic regional posture by handing Iraq to its allies. Moreover, its ally in Lebanon was toppled while Hezbollah's candidate is forming the new government. The Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his negotiating team have completely lost their credibility in the eyes of the Palestinian people after the recent publications of the Palestine Papers. The West has lost its ally in Tunisia, and is about to lose another in Egypt. Meanwhile its allies in Algeria, Yemen and Jordan are hanging on by their fingernails.
What a reversal of fortunes!
For most of the past sixty years, the U.S. has perceived the Middle East, and the Muslim world at large, from the dual prisms of Israel and oil. It has provided Israel with massive military aid, economic assistance, political cover and diplomatic shelter that not only denied the Palestinians their legitimate rights, but also prolonged their suffering and misery.
Furthermore, in securing its short-term interests of oil and military bases, successive U.S. administrations have favored dictatorships and repressive regimes in the name of stability at the expense of the right of self-determination to the people of the area.
Thirty-two years ago the U.S. lost Iran and has ever since been in a contentious relationship with it for its refusal to admit its role in maintaining the regime of the Shah. It is doubtful whether the U.S. government has learned that lesson and whether it would be willing now to clearly and completely side with the people or respect their will to be free and independent.
In his farewell address of 1796, George Washington warned his countrymen and women against the "passionate attachment" to a foreign country and advised them that "against the insidious wiles of foreign influence . . . the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government."